Digital Media India 2020 Conference drives news to profitability with big transformation on digital platform
With the presence of more 110 news media executives from over 10 countries, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) hosted the 9th edition of its Digital Media India (DMI) conference in New Delhi, under the theme ‘Growing Big in Digital’, on February 18 and 19 at Holiday Inn in Aerocity, New Delhi. The digital event brought together ideas on digital trends, technology, advertising, innovation and revenue strategies. Digital Media India 2020 was supported by Quintype, Protecmedia, CCI and ppiMedia.
The two-day Digital Media India 2020 conference covered a range of topics dealing with the news media business such as digital and programmatic advertising, video and OTT space in India, subscription strategies and transformation. The first day of the conference covered digital advertising and alternate revenue sources for the news media business, discussing, in-depth, how a publisher can drive their business to profitability. Gone are the days when the biggest revenue source of a media house was advertising revenue. Partnerships and alliances between publishers are the new normal as is content syndication, e-commerce, podcasts, sponsorship and events.
Juan Señor, President of UK’s Innovation Media Consulting Group, got things rolling with a keynote address on driving a news media business to profitability. Señor presented fourteen business models and one single strategy to transform a newsroom into a reader first model. The strategy is based on the Innovation in News Media World Report that he authored for WAN-IFRA in 2019. “A newsroom should deliver content worth paying for. Everything that generates value should generate revenue,” he said.
Puneet Gupt, Chief Operating Officer of Times Internet Ltd, in his presentation on ‘Monetising in the Times of Change,’ urged publishers to find out what content readers are willing to pay for. “Once you’ve figured out that, create resources to provide that content to the reader. Quality of revenue should be a factor in deciding how a news media company monetises. A brand must consider ‘direct sales vs programmatic sales’, ‘brand solutions vs standard advertisements,’ ‘reader revenue vs advertising revenue,’ and ‘revenue from syndication vs on-siterevenue’” he said.
The next session was on experience from Sweet, the brand studio from Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore. The session focused on ‘Native Advertising’—a holy grail of digital revenue. In the session, there was discussion about understanding programmatic advertising and new trends in it, signifying how digital ad agencies plan their programmatic campaign and bridging the gap between expectation of advertisers and publishers.
Anjali Krishnan, Media Head, MONDELEZ, talked about the way brands are looked for in advertising campaigns and selection of their audience and choosing the channel. A talk on 14 new business models and one single strategy, driving business to profitability was conducted by Juan Señor, President, Innovation Media Consulting Group, UK. The session was followed by The Economist’s experience, highlighting the London-based English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper’s reader first product strategy with session speaker Iain Noakes, Chief Customer Journey Officer, The Economist. He discussed how cultivating habit and customer loyalty are depending more and more on getting the digital product experience just right.
‘Building Sustainable Business for Journalism Through Technology and Innovation,’ was another session with speaker Rohan Tiwary, Head of Media, News & Entertainment Partnerships, APAC, Google Asia Pacific, Singapore. In the next session on partnerships and alliances between publishers, Hari Shankar, CEO, Singapore Media Exchange, narrated how publishers come together to form ad networks and jointly sell their digital ad inventory. SPH and Medicorp in Singapore, traditional arch rivals, have joined hands together and formed Singapore Media Exchange (SMX).
The next session was on content syndication as an age-old business, but perfected only by a few. With tonnes of content produced by publishers every day, not all make incremental revenue for the publishers, often due to the limitation of reach of publisher’s own site. Content syndication offers excellent source of revenue and leading consumer brands are investing more budgets in such content. The discussions in the session revolved around the way to set up syndication team, and align it with overall content strategy.
The end of the first day of the conference was marked with the ceremony of the South Asian Digital Media Awards 2020, which conferred on some of the region’s leading media companies in recognition of their outstanding works and innovations.
The second day of the conference covered the over-the-top (OTT) scenario in South Asia. The Indian news media market currently hosts more than 30 over-the-top (OTT) players. The country is expected to overtake South Korea in the next five years to become the world’s eighth biggest OTT player. In the first session of the second day, Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire, talked about ‘Digital Journalism—Is The Digital Content Bubble Waiting To Burst?” He narrated how readers ever be ready for paying for content.
In the successive session, Rupa Jha, Head of Indian Languages, BBC India, talked about increasing consumption of video content online and why every publisher is looking to create/increase their video content. She explained how best to do it, some of the successful strategies to do it. Another session was on OTT as the new platform with potential to take on every medium, giving an account on understanding OTT—opportunities and threats.
The second day had a line of sessions on diverse digital media platforms and strategies, such as ‘Changing Phase of Video Viewership and Its Impact on News Dissemination’ and popularity of ‘Helo’ app that has taken the video world by storm, with more than a million downloads in a very short span of time and by the amount of time spent. A prolific session was on ‘Technology for Digital Transformation—Enabling Organisation to be Agile, Efficient and Better Performing Enterprises’ with discussion revolving around transformation to cut cost as well as tools for publishers to cut down cost in digital business.
Another influential session was on topic ‘Machine Learning Algorithms to Manage the Content Backbone to Deliver Right Type of Content in Accordance to the Behaviour of Reader,’ with presentation of data centre set up by publishers using ML to optimise the content for global audience at fraction of the cost. Brett McKeehan, Director – Asia, CNN Digital Worldwide, Hong Kong, talked about driving change in newsroom culture, which is a deep-rooted structure and a challenge to tackle in the process of transformation of any publishing company.
The conference ended with a conversation between Navaneeth L, CEO, The Hindu and Ritu Kapur, Co-Founder and CEO, Quintillion Media, India. According to a KPMG survey, by 2030 the digital consumer is going to be non-English speaking, mobile-phone user and increasingly willing to pay for content online. “The consumption of regional news is far higher than the consumption of English news in India,” said Navaneeth. “India is largely a mobile first market. As far as paying for content is concerned, Indian media has given away far too much for far too long for far too little. There is a sense of entitlement among consumers that media has to be free.”
On the sidelines of the conference was an expo with five exhibitors from both, India and abroad displaying their products and services for news publishing industry.
South Asian Digital Media Awards 2020
Day 1 of the conference was closed with the South Asian Digital Media Awards 2020, which saw more than 80 entries from over 20 media companies. An international jury comprising high ranked professionals from the media industry chose 34 winners for the fifth edition of the awards. Manorama Online bagged an award for the ‘Best News Website’, while BBC India won the ‘Best Data Visualisation’ award.